Tens of thousands of Indians leave our shores each year in search of opportunities in distant lands like the USA, UK and Australia: far from friends and family. There, they start life at the bottom of the ladder and work their way up, one step at a time. We need to ask, why do they leave, why don’t they stay with us, where they are respected and often already well-established?
An unpleasant truth stares back at us: the absence of freedom and opportunity in India, and our injustice, lack of security, and high levels of crime and corruption. When life itself is not secure and it is virtually impossible to run a business without constantly bribing someone or another, when India is by all international benchmarks almost a banana republic, what else should our best people do? Particularly if India constantly refuses to understand the basic principles of good governance, despite repeated efforts.
This must change. If Swarna Bharat Party is elected to power, today’s state of affairs will mark the lowest ebb in India’s history. Our vision and strategies will make India a land of freedom and opportunity greater than the West has ever seen. We will create an India to which the best people from all over the world make a beeline to live and work, and our best people find it worthwhile to stay back and raise their families.
This vision may sound implausible today, but India had a track record of outstanding achievement in the past. We will once again enable India to achieve great things. Most system changes can be implemented within three years. All that is needed is a people, a country, ready for change.
For thousands of years, Indian science, agriculture and craftsmanship were unparalleled – relative to the standards of the day. We supplied most needs and luxuries for the Roman Empire and Europe. In return, India was the final destination for most of the world’s gold. No wonder, India has long been known as the golden bird (Sone Ki Chidiya). India was humanity’s guiding light, with many world religions and philosophies arising here.
Unfortunately, this proud tradition did not continue for long. Today, 67 years after the British left, why are we nowhere near our potential? We are, today, less a republic, more a tyranny. A severe crisis of confidence in the government and justice system has depleted initiative and innovation. We can’t blame the British for our sorry state of affairs any longer: six decades after we achieved self-rule.
Most gains since independence, such as increased food self-sufficiency, improved life expectancy and communications, have been achieved in spite of government, not because of it. Technological strides, mostly driven from outside India, have improved our lives, not actions by governments. Instead, the government has hindered us, even betrayed us, at almost every step.
India, which had 25 per cent share of world trade not so long ago, now engages in a tiny 1.2 per cent of global trade. Our economy is just 2.7 per cent of the global economy, compared with the more than 30 per cent it was in the past. Tiny countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, mid-sized countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and large countries like China have made rapid progress, but we continue to languish at the bottom (see the table in the Appendix).
It is time to act. Not populism, but political courage and systematic action is the need of the hour. We need a complete overhaul of our governance frameworks.
The country is searching for reasons to be proud. Even tiny ‘achievements’ (relative to global standards) are exaggerated and glorified, in a nation largely starved of reasons to feel proud. Worse, we have started to delve into - the often questionable – achievements of the distant past, seeking to piggy-back on what our ancestors may have done thousands of years ago. It is time to stop looking back for self-respect, and to build a great India for the future.
Let’s open our mind to freedom. Let’s find a purpose. Let’s wake up and take charge of our country.
We give a clarion call to Indians to:
We want an India where no child, woman or man goes hungry or feels unsafe. We want an India which is a land of opportunity and freedom. We want an India in which a Sone Ki Chidiya chirps on every branch of every tree.
This will need reform, not populism.
This manifesto offers a blueprint for an India with unparalleled prosperity. We call upon the youth to participate in creating a new India which they can be truly proud of.
We will make India the world’s centre of gravity for freedom, justice, peace, innovation and prosperity. We are committed to an India where, among many other things:
These and many related outcomes, detailed in this manifesto, can only be achieved through a comprehensive reform of India’s governance system and policies.
Populist election planks and gimmicks can only further destroy India. Free rice, water or electricity, promises of government jobs, and direct bribes for voters in the form of cash, liquor, utensils and sarees during elections are a sure way to further shackle India’s potential.
We call upon Indians to judiciously apply their mind to real solutions. This document offers all key solutions to India’s many problems. We appeal to you to carefully review this and join us in implementing these reforms.
The current system of governance is tailor-made for corruption, injustice, inefficiency and obstruction of entrepreneurship. The reforms we need can be classified under two groups: getting good people into government, and ensuring they only do what they should, but competently.
Illustrative highlights of these reforms are outlined below. Details are provided throughout this manifesto.
Get good people into government: Governance machinery and system reform.
Ensure that the government does only what it should
Changes should well-planned, not disruptive. This might mean that some inefficiencies will continue for a while, till all changes are carefully embedded. Some changes will take less than three years to implement; others will take a little longer. But by the fifth year, almost all reforms would have been successfully embedded.
India will then be an entirely different country, free for the first time. With Poorna Swaraj realised in our daily lives.
There will be many milestones on this journey to success. All of them will need to be identified, planned, and monitored.
But we ask the country to focus only on one ultimate indicator of success: the reversal of India’s brain drain. When thousands of our best and brightest halt their exodus from India, and when the world’s best graduates become desperate to migrate to India, then we will know we have succeeded. Not one day earlier.
That day, India will become well-entrenched as the beacon of liberty to the world, the greatest land of opportunity the world has ever seen.
Soon thereafter, India’s per capita income will rise to exceed the world’s highest, a foregone eventuality.
 Mukund, Kanakalatha, Merchants of Tamilakam: Pioneers of International Trade, Delhi: Allen Lane, 2012. (Series Editor: Gurcharan Das), see Foreword.